Find out what a hard drive does, how big a drive you need, and how much you can store on a hard drive.
What Does a Hard Drive Do?
A hard drive is the hardware component that stores all of your digital content. Your documents, pictures, music, videos, programs, application preferences, and operating system represent digital content stored on a hard drive. Hard drives can be external or internal.
Everything stored on a hard drive is measured in terms of its file size. Documents (text) are generally very small whereas pictures are large, music is even larger, and videos are the largest. A hard drive determines the size of digital files in terms of megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB), and terabytes (TB).1
What Is the Best Hard Drive Size?
That depends. If you simply need to transfer a limited number of files between a computer and a backup drive, a smaller drive ( Expansion Drive or Backup Plus ) will work. If you want to back up your entire computer or several computers — or if you store a lot of video and/or audio — you’ll want a larger drive (Backup Plus Desktop Drive).
Here is an estimate of how much you can store on a hard drive (up to 10 TB).2
PC or Mac?
Although some drives are pre-formatted to work with either a PC or Mac, any drive can be reformatted to work with either type of computer.
Is Hard Drive Speed Important?
Spin speed (rotations per minute, or RPM) is relatively important. The faster a disk (platter) spins, the faster your computer can find the file you want.
A 7,200 RPM hard drive is obviously faster than a 5,400 RPM hard drive. But with external drives, you’ll hardly notice a difference between the two RPM speeds. The same holds true with internal drives, especially with smaller files. However, you’ll see noticeable improvement on a 7,200 RPM hard drive with larger files and applications.
Should I Choose an Internal or External Drive?
It depends on your situation. Upgrading your computer’s internal hard drive (BarraCuda) provides built-in storage for all of your files. An external hard drive gives you portable, on-the-go storage at your fingertips (Backup Plus).
The Need for Data Backup
If your computer’s hard drive is damaged, you risk losing all of your digital content. This is why most people back up their content on an external drive in addition to their computer’s internal drive.
1 One gigabyte, or GB, equals one billion bytes when referring to hard drive capacity. Accessible capacity may vary depending on operating environment and formatting. Quantitative usage examples for various applications are for illustrative purposes. Actual quantities will vary based on several factors, including file size, file format, features and application software.
2 Average file size using camera’s highest resolution JPEG mode. The actual number of images per hard drive will vary and depends on the camera model. Based on 2-hour, DVD-quality movies.